We started climbing right out of the start, which strung the pack out nicely. I had planned for a conservative start, which translates a little loosely from the usual "conservative" definition. I got right up to max and kept it there for only about 15 mins... sweet to redline right away. I wore a deadgoat ninja jersey today and it worked - Jon shoulder checked and looked right at me 4 times, then turned to Pat and Andy and asked if they'd seen Erik around. I've never been so stealthy on someone's wheel before. Everyone was trying to hole shot for a skinny bridge through mud so it wouldn't get backed up, but 2k of pavement climb and another couple of doubletrack made it a non issue.
Trails today were beautiful again - much of the Test of Metal course and the Gear Jammer courses. Great shaded singletrack, steep technical decents, nice flowing burmed corner section to rail. One big gravel road climb I survived, 5 miles I think, though it's easy to feel like your climbing is inferior when Jon's making it look effortless hanging around at my pace.
Long fast downhill after that gave way to technical singletrack. After checkpoint 2 we went out for another 10k loop in the woods of more great technical singletrack. Finished through a little residential then 2k of path around a park. Some guys rocketed past us on the residential but we wound it up for a short steep climb plus the last 2k and had a big gap open again at the finish.
Swam in the pool, ate pizza, massaged, and ready for another day.
Pat had a rough start again but things turned part way through, they started feeling better on the big climb. He's talkative after the race whereas yesterday he was in the hurting place.
Trish and Craig had another solid day, Trish rode with Pat for a little.
My back is totally fine, legs feel ok (zero soreness at start today vs yesterday I started sore), my biggest problem in life at this point is that some gel pack blew up in my feed bag and everything I own is sticky, so really things aren't too bad.
Not sure right now where we finished, I'd guess roughly the same as last few days. We took 3:55 to ride, Hestler and Plaxton won at 3:15. I guess I have to learn to hold 70rpm in my big ring on the climbs.
Talked with a friend from Mexico who did La Ruta last year who was basically asing how someone learns to ride this stuff. Some people have been doing it since kids, some learn this week, and some take paractice.
It's especially worth noting that this race is totally worth doing for mountain bikers, but if you're a roadie convert with no technical skills, you need to brush up. There are a few "green runs" here, but we all follow the same route, and there's also plenty of "black runs" in the race, as some are finding out. TransRockies is a lot more forgiving for the roadie crowd.